Lectures at Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, Spring 2008
Carbon Cycle and Climate
MWF 9-11:30    Room: IAP Conference Room 101   Instructor: Prof. Ning Zeng   Course web: http://www.atmos.umd.edu/~zeng/IAP07

Outline and Syllabus
Weekly Progress
Reading Assignments
Books, Grading, Office Hours

Student Project Reports (in Chinese)

This course introduces the fundamentals of the Earth's carbon cycle, a key biogeochemical cycle that controls Earth's climate and life.  The course will focus on the changing characteristics of the carbon cycle on several timescales, ranging from geological, glacial-interglacial, interannual-interdecadal, and the more recent anthropogenic influence on carbon cycle and climate, as well as the future carbon-climate interaction in global warming scenarios. The carbon cycle in the atmosphere, land, ocean and the biosphere will be addressed.  The underlying human activities such as fossil fuel burning and deforestation  that are responsible for the increase in the atmosphere CO2 and our future options in dealing with the carbon problem such as alternative energy and carbon sequestration will also be discussed.

Sample questions we will examine include:
How and why is CO2 variability related to El Nino?
The 'missing' carbon sink, i.e., where has all the fossil fuel carbon gone?
How true is the CO2 theory of climate change?
How strong is carbon-climate feedback in a global warming world?


1. Climate change: the challenge to China and the world

2. Fundamentals
    Historical background
    The natural carbon cycle
    The anthropogenically altered carbon cycle

3. Processes underlying the natural carbon cycle
    Seasonal cycles

4. Sources and sinks of anthropogenic carbon
    Fossil fuel emission
    Land Use: deforestation and regrowth
    The 'missing' carbon sink on land
    Sinks in the ocean and a lot more

5.  Interannual variability of the carbon cycle
    Disturbances such as fire

6. Variability on decadal and multidecadal timescales
    Related to modes of climate variability
    Recent warming induced changes, espeicially in the arctic region

7. Carbon variability on geological timescales
    Glacial-interglacial cycles
    Last 500 M years and beyond

8. What's happening to the carbon cycle now and future projections
    Recent changes
    Integrated assessment
    Carbon-climate feedbacks

9. Carbon management, energy use and options for the future
      Rnewable energy resources
      Carbon sequestration

Grading Method
Students will be evaluated based on attendence, in-class quiz, 1 reading/presentation

Reference books (no required text book)
The Global Carbon Cycle: Integrating Humans, Climate, and the Natural World            (Good summaries of current research)
C. B. Field and M. R. Raupach (editors);  Island Press, 2004. ISBN 1559635274

Earth System Science: From Biogeochemical Cycles to Global Changes                (Concepts (chapter by Rodhe), and specific topics)
by Michael Jacobson, Robert J. Charlson, Henning Rodhe, Gordon H. Orians
Academic Press; 1st edition (February 15, 2000)  ISBN: 012379370X

Biogeochemistry                                                                                        (Good as basic reading for Chapter 2)
W.H. Schlesinger 
Academic Press, ISBN 0-12-625155-X | 2/20/1997

Biogeochemistry                                                             (Required reading: summaries on geological (Sundquist) and modern (Houghton) carbon cycle)
W.H. Schlesinger (Editor)
Academic Press,  ISBN 0-08-044642-6 | 6/8/2005

Earth's Climate: Past and Future
William Ruddiman


        Prof. Ning Zeng
        Email: zeng@atmos.umd.edu

Office Hour
After class or by appointment

Student projects from the class of spring 2006